The Documentation Center of Cambodia will hold live screenings of the August 7 verdict in the first segment of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s flagship case against the regime’s senior-most surviving leaders, representatives of the organisation said yesterday.
According to material from DC-Cam, the events will take place in 20 locations across 12 provinces and the capital to “ensure the Cambodian public in rural areas have access to information and news about the verdict pronouncement”.
“The live screenings and forums will provide ethnic minorities, marginalized people, former Khmer Rouge soldiers and cadres, and villagers living in rural and mountainous areas with access to information they would otherwise have no access to,” the DC-Cam announcement reads.
Ly Sok-Kheang, the DC-Cam project leader in charge of the program, said that, in addition to news of the verdict in the case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the forums offered Cambodians a level of interaction they wouldn’t get from listening to the radio.
“It’s a way to engage them, and for them to engage each other. So they get a better sense of justice,” he said. “And they can express their satisfaction or not. So it’s a way to create a dialogue.”
A number of the screenings will be held in areas that remained Khmer Rouge strongholds well into the 1990s, and as such, could help open a discussion between the victims and the perpetrators, he added.
“It’s a way to reconcile our nation,” he said. “Only the most senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge are going to be sentenced, but the victims and the low-level cadres have to live together.”
Em Sokha, governor of the former Khmer Rouge holdout of Malai district in Banteay Meanchey province, said that about 80 per cent of those in his district were former Khmer Rouge and that many of them have kept abreast of proceedings at the court.
Social researcher Kem Ley said yesterday that while fostering dialogue at the local level was a good start, government engagement would be essential for Cambodia to fully absorb the tribunal’s lessons.
“They should start not just the debate but also how to transfer the procedures of the Khmer Rouge tribunal into [local courts],” he said. “Cambodia and the UN need to talk about mainstreaming this [history] in the national education curriculum.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA